Womb cancer rate fuelled by obesity

Obesity is fuelling a massive jump in the number of women suffering womb cancer.


The number diagnosed with the disease has almost doubled in 20 years, while population rates of womb cancer have also seen a rise, Cancer Research UK warned.

From 1993 to 1995, around 19 women in every 100,000 developed womb cancer in the UK, rising to 29 women in every 100,000 by 2011-13 (the most recent figures available).

About 9000 women are now diagnosed with womb cancer every year in the UK – up from about 4800 new cases a year 20 years ago.

The disease kills about 2000 women every year.

Professor Jonathan Ledermann, director of the Cancer Research UK and UCL Cancer Trials Centre, said: “It’s worrying that womb cancer cases are going up so sharply. We don’t know all the reasons why. But we do know that about a third of cases are linked to being overweight so it’s no surprise to see the increases in womb cancer cases echo rising obesity levels.

“The good news is that thanks to research and improved treatments, survival has improved.

“In the 1970s, almost six in 10 women diagnosed with the disease survived for at least 10 years. Now almost eight in 10 women survive.

In January, Cancer Research UK warned that almost 700,000 more people could develop cancer in the next 20 years due to being overweight or obese.

Ten types of cancer are linked to obesity, which can also lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and a range of other health problems.

The 10 types are of the womb, bowel, breast, gallbladder, liver, kidney, pancreas, oesophagus, and aggressive forms of ovarian and prostate cancer.

Current trends suggest almost three in four adults will be overweight or obese by 2035.

Cancer Research UK said it was not completely clear how being overweight fuels cancer, but it is thought extra fat spurs on hormones and growth factors that encourage cells to divide.

Other – but less significant – risk factors for womb cancer include increasing age, a lack of exercise, genetic make-up and taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Symptoms of womb cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding (particularly in post-menopausal women), blood in the urine and abdominal pain. If the disease is caught early, most women can be treated with a hysterectomy.